United Nation’s history over the past three decades has been mired by failure, division, and scandal. There have been several incidences portending disastrous effect of UN peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia in mid-1990s. Further, Sudan genocide was handled poorly by slow response of UN, speaks volume of its unimpressive track record. In nutshell, over the last few decades there have been more failures of UN missions than successes.
Till the time of Cold War, there was balance of power between US led NATO and Soviet led Warsaw Pact nations. However, after the Cold War, US has adopted a two prong approach with UN: on one hand it is reluctant to pull it weight when it comes to UN and on the other it tries to dictate the direction UN would take.
Mark Malloch Brown, former Deputy U.N. Secretary-General, in his controversial speech said, “the worst mistake” made by an UN official in a quarter of century and warned “serious consequences of a decades-long tendency by U.S. Administrations of both parties to engage only fitfully with the UN” and condemned “the prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics.”
The reason US dictate terms to UN is that it is the biggest contributor to UN. It contributes 17 percent of the UNICEF budget, 31 percent of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees budget, and 48 percent of the World Food Program budget. Even in UN peacekeeping operations, US has been the biggest contributor in the world and funds 27 percent of the global U.N. peacekeeping budget. Between 2001 and 2005, the US contribution was $3.59 billion for UN international peacekeeping operations.
The result of this is overwhelming dominance of United States over United Nations presaging a direction and approach that serves US interests more than anyone else’s. This is the reason George W. Bush did not care to listen UN before his most infamous military adventure against Iraq. Bush did it unilaterally with help of 42 other nations that found US interest far more important than the appeal made by then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan against the misadventure. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN peacekeeping mission was sent, albeit late. However, the Rohingya massacre that is going on could not inspire UN to impose sanctions or send a peacekeeping mission to Myanmar. This is because United States has turned a blind face towards the sufferings of the Rohingya people. There are many more instances where UN served like an US stooge with disastrous results. Time has come to make UN a truly democratic institution so that this noble body does not lose its relevance.